Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Living in the present

About a tribe in Brazilian rainforest called the "Pirahã"

"Thirty years of living with the Pirahã has taught Everett that they exist almost completely in the present. Absorbed by the daily struggle to survive, they do not plan ahead, store food, build houses or canoes to last, maintain tools or talk of things beyond those that they, or people they know, have experienced. They are the "ultimate empiricists".

"If anything, they are superior in many ways to us. Thinking too much about the future or worrying too much about the past is really unhealthy. The Pirahã taught me that very lesson. Living in the moment is a sophisticated way to live. I don't see depression. I don't see some of the things that afflict our society - and that's not because they don't face pressures."

Missionaries and government officials see Pirahã society as poor and seek to help by giving them money and modern technology. "The Pirahã aren't poor. They don't see themselves as poor," he says. He believes capitalism and religion are manufacturing desires. "One of the saddest things I've seen in Amazonian cultures is people who were self-sufficient and happy that now think of themselves as poor and become dissatisfied with their lives. What worries me is outsiders trying to impose their values and materialism on the Pirahã."

From "The power of speach" - Guardian 10th Nov